VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — If you were to stand on the shore of Virginia Beach and look out at the ocean as far as you possibly could, you still wouldn’t be able to see the two wind turbines that stand tall and generating energy out at sea.
Those turbines were installed in 2020 as part of a Dominion Energy pilot project, but the pair is only a symbol of what’s to come.
“Dominion’s developing a commercial-scale project,” said G.T. Hollett, Dominion’s director of offshore wind. “It’ll be 176 wind turbines.”
Dominion is deep into work on a large wind power plant project in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a cleaner power alternative designed to bring long-term economic benefits.
Once completed, it’ll be the nation’s largest project of its kind.
“It’ll power homes for about 660,000 folks in Dominion’s service territory,” Hollett said. “That’s about a quarter of our customers.”
Not only will Virginia be riding the first wave of utilizing wind turbines, but Hollett said the state could also be a place where turbines are made. Dominion is looking to establish a blade-finishing facility located in Virginia’s port.
“It helps diversify our workforce,” said director of economic growth, John Larson.
Larson said construction of the turbines would bring about 900 jobs annually, and nearly 1,100 once they’re in operation.
“You see the beginnings of the industry coming to the U.S. It’s pretty neat to be a part of something like that,” Hollett said.
The 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act calls on Dominion to produce energy from fully renewable sources by 2045, and this first project would wrap up in late 2026.
There’s been some pushback regarding the Commercial Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project and its estimated $9.8 billion cost.
The Attorney General’s office filed testimony with the State Corporation Commission in March with concerns that costs may outweigh benefits, with “significant risks” posed to customers.
“We go through that review by the SCC to ensure that we’ve done competitive procurement and be reasonable in developing the project that would ultimately go into serving our customers here in VA,” Hollett said.
A Dominion spokesperson said if approved by the SCC, the net average cost to a typical residential customer over the life of the project is estimated at approximately $4 to $5 per month, although the cost will be lower in some years and higher in other years.
However, the SCC will also consider offsetting savings including the expected energy value benefits of more than $3 billion for the project’s first ten years in operation.
The SCC has to clear the project, and its price, before the next phase can begin. Public hearings will begin in May.